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Personal Hygiene and Dementia

As dementia progresses, your loved one may begin resisting personal hygiene tasks, or forget how to do simple tasks, such as dressing or teeth brushing. In the most severe stage of dementia, your loved one will most likely be unable to dress, bathe and groom alone. In order to ensure your loved one is clean and well-cared for, use simple instructions, keep routines consistent, and keep your loved one’s privacy and dignity intact.

Bathing and showering: It’s important to insist your loved one bathe on a regular basis. Create a three-times weekly routine (or whatever you see fit), and let your loved one know, “Dad, it’s time for a shower.” If he needs assistance, use a shower or bath bench and wash one body part at a time, while keeping a towel to cover other body parts for privacy. Also consider helping your loved one bathe most of the body, leaving more private areas for him/her to finish with a handled sponge, if s/he is capable.

Changing and daily care routines: Create daily teeth brushing, hair combing and dressing routines with your loved one. Make it a habit that after breakfast, the two of you commence to the bedroom and bathroom for self care. Help your loved one by mirroring teeth brushing and hair combing, and by setting clothes out on the bed, so they’re easy to access. If your loved one needs help dressing, there are a number of ways to maintain privacy while assisting. Change one piece of clothing at a time to keep as much skin covered as possible, and look down while helping him or her pull on undergarments and pants.